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Magic for Liars

Written by: Sarah Gailey
Narrated by: Xe Sands
Length: 9 hrs and 7 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (12 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Sharp, mainstream fantasy meets compelling thrills of investigative noir in Magic for Liars, a fantasy debut by rising star Sarah Gailey.  

Ivy Gamble was born without magic and never wanted it. Ivy Gamble is perfectly happy with her life - or at least, she’s perfectly fine. She doesn't in any way wish she was like Tabitha, her estranged, gifted twin sister. 

Ivy Gamble is a liar. 

When a gruesome murder is discovered at the Osthorne Academy of Young Mages, where her estranged twin sister teaches theoretical magic, reluctant detective Ivy Gamble is pulled into the world of untold power and dangerous secrets. She will have to find a murderer and reclaim her sister - without losing herself.   

“An unmissable debut.” (Adrienne Celt, author of Invitation to a Bonfire)

©2019 Sarah Gailey (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jonathan Gibbs
  • 2019-06-09

Holy Forking Shirtballs

just buy the ding dang book and stop reading reviews. this pulpy noir meets Harry Potter world is what you want. Nay, what you need.

14 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Lana
  • 2019-06-19

Veronica Mars meets The Magicians

The story was a bit too predictable and I found the main character a little whiny at times, but overall I enjoyed the book. There were some great characters (Rahul and Mrs Webb were my favourites) and I especially loved the way magic was performed and used. However, I feel Gaily could have expanded more on the magical world as a whole. I was left with a lot of questions... What do students do after they graduate? How much is the magical world separated from the non-magical world? What does the “chosen one” even do anyway?...

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Tracy
  • 2019-06-14

Just couldn’t get through it...

I really tried to get through this book. I did, but couldn’t do it. A little unhappy I couldn’t return it for a refund. I love Xe Sands. Not her fault. I was soooo sick of listening to the main character whine, by chap 8, I couldn’t take it anymore and gave up. Geez enough already!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Midwest Male
  • 2019-07-19

not a fantasy book

this is really a story about a woman estranged from her twin sister. the sister is more beautiful, smarter, more "magical". someone dies in the beginning and then it gets progressively more boring and less interesting with each chapter until the grand reveal...which was anticlimactic to say the least. magic is largely irrelevant to the story. it is used in places, but it's just decoration. I liked the narration, but the story was boring.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dana
  • 2019-06-16

Wrenching emotion, believable characters

Ms Gailey's book was brought to my attention via @Scalzi on Twitter. Thanks to them both I will now keep refreshing the release dates for whatever she writes next. In a setting of magic and fantasy, this rings more true to human experiences than any review had led me to expect.

Narration is smooth and gritty all at once, just as the lead character and this book's world require.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • joan
  • 2019-06-27

One of a Kind - Sci fi for women

This book tells a touching story about a private detective trying to solve a magic murder mystery under somewhat dangerous circumstances while dealing with her own problems. It's hard gumshoe from a woman's perspective. The main character is insecure, drinks too much, lonely, still grieving her mother's death, and still holds a grudge against her sister. The phrase "vulnerable yet strong" comes to mind.

All of the main characters are women, from the school principal, the doctors and nurses, the detective, the professors, and the bully. The women are also powerful mages.

As a woman myself, and a long time scifi reader, I found that I related to the people in the story so much more than in the traditional scifi, and I'm grateful that this book is out there and doing well on the market. The sisters' relationship is also relatable and touching.

The magic is moderately peppered throughout the book, but isn't heavily focused on. There are some spells that inspire awe, and some familiar tricks that recall a Harry Potter type of magic, as another reviewer mentioned. But the setting isn't Hogwarts, it's a more modern high school building, and the kids have high school problems and concerns that they deal with in modern-day ways.

As always, the narrator Xe Sands did an amazing job, putting so much humanity into each word and each character that the story felt real and whole, and I almost forgot it was just a book.

Loved!! Thank you ma'am, may I have another?

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kevin
  • 2019-10-16

A really thought provoking mystery

There are a lot of popular fantasy novels that blend the real, mundane world with a secret magical world, but Sarah Gailey did it in a fresh. interesting way. What made me really enjoy the book was how the effects (or the lack their of) that magic has on the real world and the animosity that a mundane human would have on a group of people they believe could solve all the world's problem.

The only thing that keeps me from making this a 5 star book is that the cast of characters seems to be hand picked for social justice conscious people. It felt like the author was trying to force inclusion. I don't think it's a bad thing, I just think it could and should be done more organically.

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  • Lucy Merriman
  • 2019-09-16

Great story, great narration

it's been a while since I finished a book in a day or two. this novel is truly compulsively listen-able. I couldn't wait to get back to it when I took a break.

Ultimately, Magic for Liars blends an intriguing, fast paced mystery--one in which the narrator has to learn a world's worth of Magical rules and systems on the sly in order to understand enough to solve a murder, which creates excellent tension-- and a moving character study that explores why we sometimes lie to ourselves, and the tension between the power of fantasy to make your life better and the cowardice in refusing (or procrastinating) facing reality as it is.

The relationships are all very believable, even if the romantic subplot veers into cliche territory. if you've read much romance, you can basically see each beat coming a mile away. but even then! The chemistry is there and enjoyable. Without spoilers, I will say that I liked the open-ended, um, ending of the subplot. it's not that unresolved romantic subplots are new, but it works here.

overall, I give this book 5/5 stars, and I definitely want to read more by this author.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-09-07

better than expected

kept me edge most of the time, and didn't end like I expected! very enjoyable listen

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • RRR
  • 2019-08-13

great narration, not very magical

this book was recommended to me. and I did enjoy it. mostly for the relationship between the two astranged sisters. the magic part was almost unnecessary. the narration was very good. she really carried the story.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful